GERN - A healthy diet and sustainability

Grant: FWF-Austrian Science Fund, PROVISION, Project No. PRV500002

Funding Body: FWF-Austrian Science Fund, PROVISION, Project No. PRV500002
Project Homepage:

Duration: 2008-2011

Total Project leader:

A. Prof. Matthias Zessner


Principal Investigator Part Nutrition:

Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Wagner


Project group:

Tamara Haider, PhD student, project assistance
Katharina Helmich


Cooperation partner:

A.Prof. Mathias Zessner,  Vienna University for Technology, Institute for Water Quality, Resources Management and Waste Management, Vienna, Austria
Dr. Horst Steinmüller,  Energy Institute, Linz, Austria
Dipl.-Ing. Maria Magdalena Mayr, Austrian Association for   Agricultural and environmental Research, Vienna, Austria

Short description: Public Health is essentially influenced by eating habits. At the same time, consumers have a major impact on agricultural and food production imply through their food choice.  Additionally, the type of produced food (animal or plant origin) affects the environment (water, soil, air) in interaction with the type of production (intensive/extensive production, conventional farming/organic farming). The populations diet is a material factor (a driver) for environmental pollution from food production. Among others, the populations diet has also an effect on the land required for farming, which is also exposed to increasing pressure for use in growing renewable raw materials for generating energy. Therefore effects on the environment must be expected too. The type of agricultural production affects the costs of food, which differ in dependence on the chosen diet.
The essential objective of this project is to put a sustainable diet for the population into concrete terms. This means a diet that combines a low health risk with persistently tolerable environmental pollution arising out of production.
The results will aim at recording quantitatively the link between diet and its consequences for health with agricultural production, the associated effects on the environment and economical aspects. Scenario calculations will outline possible developments and will indicate measures for mitigation. The results will then be edited for a broad public.
The project is based on the hypothesis that a healthy diet for the population is a significant key to sustainable agriculture.
The central question that is dealt with is: Which synergies are possible between health, quality of life and sustainability? The link between global changes, climate changes and agriculture with health and the quality of life will be explored.
The essential innovation of the project is the holistic observation of the problem, the interlinking of different specialist fields and the combination of methodological approaches. The methodology chosen enables questions of healthcare, environmental pollution from farming, problems of climate and the energy industry to be linked to one another. Scenarios will be calculated through the quantitative description of these correlations and the effects of different strategies can be compared with one another.